The Japanese government is in talks with officials from the United States in preparation for President Barack Obama’s visit to the country in April. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will head to the United States this Friday to meet with U.S. secretary of State John Kerry for preliminary talks. Japan is hoping that views on certain issues will be properly addressed during the summit talk of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Obama, as relations have tensed up the past month due to various political issues.
PM Abe is anticipated to renew the alliance between Japan and the United States and to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade accord, which they plan to finalize immediately. Both nations are also expected to uphold the necessity of strengthening their security relations by revising guidelines for defense cooperation between them. Discussions on encouraging the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station to Okinawa from Ginowan will also play a big part during the summit. Speaking to the House of Councillors’ Budget Committee, Abe said he plans to “fully explain” his intentions for visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in December, which “disappointed” their closest ally. “By fully explaining my intentions, including the remarks I made as a prime minister, to avoid the misunderstanding of the United States, an importantly, I want to make the bond between Japan and the United States unshakable,” he said.
Reaffirming the alliance between Japan and U.S. in the summit is expected to curb the security threat of China, which has renewed pressure over the disputed Senkaku Islands off Okinawa. Obama’s Asian visit will also include the Philippines and Malaysia and possibly South Korea. A visit to Japan’s neighbour might possibly shorten Obama’s stay in Japan and the two countries, also at odds due to a territorial dispute and historical issues, are determined to use the U.S. President’s visit as a way to strengthen their position with the world power.
[via Yomiuri Shimbun]